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Stop the Cold and Flu in Their Tracks! Dr. Whyte-Connell’s Guide to Staying Healthy this Winter!


Scarves, hats, gloves and coats are not the only evidence of winter; so are the cold and Flu viruses. They rarely rear their heads during the summer in the US, but are predators in the cold and drier seasons. Cold and Flu make us feel miserable and cause missed days of work and play. So how do we send a clear message of triumph to these viruses? We can do so in three ways: prevention, recognition, and early treatment.

The Flu can be quite deadly even when recognized early, so the best way to prevent the Flu is to get vaccinated at the start of the Flu season typically October through March. The CDC reported that approximately 80, 000 people died from the Flu last season and more than 200,000 were hospitalized with complications including Pneumonia and Bronchitis. The young, the elderly and people with chronic diseases are at the highest risk. Every member of the household is recommended to be vaccinated if 6 months of age or older. So, why do many people avoid getting the Flu shot?

I have a saying, “No fear, you are in the clear. Get your Flu shot every year!” to help combat common misconceptions about Flu vaccinations. The main one that I hear is: The Flu vaccine causes the Flu; the CDC continues to report that the Flu vaccine does not cause the Flu. The Flu vaccines for the Flu are usually of two types, the inactivated or killed vaccine and the recombinant vaccine, which uses only a single gene from a Flu virus to mount an immune response, without causing infection.  People usually become ill from other viral and bacterial infections that happen to occur at the same time, causing them to believe it was the Flu vaccine.

If you’re allergic to any component of the Flu vaccine, don’t get the vaccine! Talk to your doctor about how you can stay healthy during Flu season without putting yourself at risk.  

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a cold and the Flu. Both a cold and the Flu have similar symptoms even though they’re caused by different viruses. Common symptoms of both include runny or stuffy nose and sore throat. However, the Flu usually causes fever, chills, muscle and/or body aches, fatigue (tiredness), vomiting and sometimes diarrhea can occur. The Flu can cause serious health complications and in severe cases can even lead to death.

How can knowing the symptoms of the Cold and Flu lead to better health for you?

Recognition leads to action. You can help protect yourself and others from someone with a cold or the Flu by keeping your distance if someone is sick  It’s not always easy to spot when a person’s sick, so as a precaution,  be sure to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. You should wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Soap and water is preferred, but you can use alcohol based sanitizer as well to clean your hands. Visit your doctor within 2 days if you develop severe symptoms of the Flu!

So this season, along with scarves, hats and coats, let’s make it fashionable to be an advocate for prevention, recognition and early treatment of this season’s enemies, the cold and the Flu!


Stacey Whyte-Connell, DO, earned her Medical Degree from New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in Old Westbury, NY and completed her Residency in Family Practice at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. She is Board Certified in Family Medicine and specializes in Family Practice and Primary Care. Dr. Whyte-Connell treats patients in Middletown.